The Lagos State government has arraigned Chrisland School Limited, and some of its staff members over the death of a 12-year-old student, Whitney Omodesola Adeniran, who died during the school’s inter-house sport on the 9th of February, 2023.
They were all arraigned on Thursday before Justice Oyindamola Ogala of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja on a two-count charge of involuntary manslaughter, and acting in a reckless and negligent manner that endangered her life.
The affected staff are the principal, Mrs Belinda Amao, the Vice Principal, Nwatu Victoria, and a teacher in the school, Kuku Fatai. The other defendant is a vendor at the Agege Stadium, Ademoye Adewale.
The Attorney General & Commissioner of Justice, Lagos, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Moyosore Onigbanjo, who led the prosecution on behalf of the State Government told the court that the state had filed two count counts against the defendants. He asked the court to allow them to take their plea.
When the counts were read to the defendants, they all pleaded not guilty. The school principal, Mrs Belinda Amao, wept loudly while in the dock.
The Attorney General also informed the court that the state had lined up seventeen witnesses to testify against the defendant. He asked the court for a date to enable the prosecution open trial.
The defence team on its part informed the court that they had pending applications seeking the bail of all the defendants. The lawyers subsequently took turns moving their bail applications.
The Attorney General had no objections to the applications. He, however, urged the court not to grant bail on self recognizance and to ensure to grant conditions that would guarantee that the defendants show up for their trial.
The court subsequently took a short break to write its ruling on bail.
In her ruling, Justice Oyindamola Ogala granted the principal and vice principal of Chrisland School, Mrs Belinda Amao, and Nwatu Ugochi Victoria, bail in the sum of N20m each with two sureties in the sum of N10m each.
The other two defendants were granted bail in the sum of 10m each with two sureties in like sum pending the hearing and determination of the charge against them.
The court also ruled that the sureties must be residents within the jurisdiction of the court and their financial status and address must be credible and verifiable.
All defendants must also provide evidence of payment of tax for the last three years as well as deposit their international passport with the registrar of the court.
Parties in the matter have also agreed that the trial will continue after the Easter holidays. The court adjourned till May 25, June 1, 8, and 15 for the commencement of trial.
On the 9th of February, 2023, Chrisland School, Ikeja, organized an inter-house sport at the Agege Sports Stadium for its students, and during the event, Whitney was electrocuted.
Indeed, a nine-paged autopsy report conducted at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja put the cause of death asphyxia and electrocution.
When she slumped at the event, she was given first aid by the nurse on standby and was subsequently rushed to Agege Central Hospital, Agege, Lagos where she was confirmed dead by the doctor on duty.
The two-count charge which was filed on behalf of the state government by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Dr. Jide Martins disclosed that
the defendants all negligently killed Whitney by not ensuring her safety.
The charge also disclosed that they all acted in a reckless and negligent manner that endangered human life.
The offences are contrary to Sections 224 & 251 of the Criminal Law, C17, Vol.3, Laws of Lagos State, 2015
If found guilty, they carry a penalty of life imprisonment and two-year jail terms respectively.